Tag Archives: Green Belt

CPBC Peer Challenge “Positives,” Yet to include being “Upfront about its strategic growth” and being Receptive to Growth within the Green Belt!

“I would encourage everyone to read the report”

ceo Castle Point Borough Council 

The invite could not be resisted, however the “Positives” in the cpbc Peer Challenge  Report, appear to be more difficult to find.

Yes the Budget controls are seen as a “Positive” in these austere times, as does the performance from the somewhat reduced staffing levels.

Essex FRS

In this 3rd look into the Peer Report, we highlight another area in which this “Positive” report appears not so rosy.

If this section of the Peer Review does not cause concern as to where CPBC is heading then nothing will:

” 4.2 Leadership of Place

Many senior internal and external partners provided clear evidence of CPBC’s strong leadership and commitment to South Essex Vision 2050.

This positive approach must continue to ensure the work is strategic and proactive.
Partners proposed a number of issues to strengthen that leadership and commitment further and asked CPBC to:

Be upfront about its strategic growth – CPBC needs to demonstrate that it is fully considering all potential growth options and with partners be planning for accommodating its fair share.

Be receptive to some plan led growth in the green belt. As part of the South Essex 2050 work, all of the partner Councils will need to consider the potential for growth within their green belt.

For CPBC, where possible, it will need to illustrate that such growth can be achieved even if only on a small scale as part of the wider growth agenda.

Effective partnerships require ‘give and take’ and we saw that the Council’s leadership were receptive to this.” 

We all need to wake up to what is going on here!



At Castle Point the “narrative around the potential that development can offer” doesn’t really Cut It, with Residents!

Having had the opportunity to read the review document you would have noticed that the primary task of the peer team was initially to consider the following five components believe to be critical to councils’ performance and improvement:

1. Understanding of the local place and priority setting
2. Leadership of Place
3. Organisational leadership and governance
4. Financial planning and viability
5. Capacity to deliver.


Runnymede Towers

In addition to these issues CPBC, it would seem, specifically asked the Peer Team to /review/provide feedback on strategic housing and environment, including open spaces.
The response outcome is:-

“New residential development inevitably creates concerns around loss of green space, and whilst such space undoubtedly offers amenity and possibly wildlife value it very often offers very little by way of recreational opportunity for local people. It’s important to remember that new neighbourhoods can introduce valuable, accessible open space and recreational and green infrastructure opportunities if designed well, entirely new assets.

It’s therefore vital that the council engages all of its skills and experience in maximising the potential gains from this process, and this means involving those who will be responsible for the future management of new sites. The council should therefore aim to create an alternative narrative around the potential that development can offer beyond meeting housing need alone.”

It would seem questionable as to why this additional task was specifically included, knowing how emotive the subject of developing Castle Point’s green belt has become.

The Peer Team’s response reads very much like part of a developers planning application argument as to why a parcel of green belt should be developed.

It is not unreasonable that those of us dedicated to the preservation of the Borough’s green belt and open spaces, will conclude that there could have been a sinister motive for this additional question to have been brought forward, knowing that its subsequent response will now be considered for favourable planning evidence

Persimmons seek Change of Use of Canvey Island Green Belt Land, with Stable Block for just 3 Horses, whilst Profits impress and Residents unaware!

On first glance it might be puzzling to explain why Canvey Island should be the first choice for Persimmon Homes to expand their successful business interests into the world of Equestrian pursuits at the Dutch Village on Canvey Island!

Persimmon’s profits more than triple over five years to £782.6million in 2016.

And yet they have registered a Planning Proposal with Castle Point borough council;

18/0118/FUL | Erection of stable block with adjoining hay storage/tack room and associated landscaping, formation of access track together with the change of use of land.

Persimmon, this mighty developer, seeks to enter into Equestrianism with a 16+ Hectare site for just 3 horses!


Riding Roughshod through Planning Policy

Quite obviously the Change of Use of Land is tactical manoeuvring in preparation for their challenge to the next cpbc Local Plan, Housing Supply and its interpretation of Green Belt Policy.

Either way, should the Dutch Village site become developed with the anticipated 300 dwellings, the infrastructure issues on Canvey Island will be exacerbated.

Health Service, traffic, recreation and Flooding issues will all be worsened, affecting each and every Canvey Island and South Benfleet resident!

The Change of use of Land, should signify a warning to all of the Borough’s Green Belt site neighbours, many of the Borough’s GB sites have some Built Development on them.

CPBC needs to be working on a Red Line to define where GB land changes from their pristine, cherished “virgin” sites to, GB with limited development, before finally becoming Previously developed Green Belt with the same lack of protection as Brownfield sites.

The KEY to ANY Canvey Island development must be that it is, APPROPRIATE DEVELOPMENT!

Castle Point council must respond in the correct manner to this application. We should all make our thoughts known to the council officers, otherwise Green Belt Policy will be undermined and Canvey Island and Sth.Benfleet residents will suffer.

The Link to the Application to view documents and to make comment is HERE.

Reasons to Object or comment upon could include:

Green Belt Development

as a whole, it should be considered that the proposal represents inappropriate development in the Green Belt. The NPPF identifies that such development may only be permitted under Very Special Circumstances.
NPPF Paragraph 83 instructs “Once established, Green Belt boundaries should only be altered in exceptional circumstances, through the preparation or review of the Local Plan.”
It can be argued that the “Change of Use of Land” should also only be considered, through the preparation or review of the Local Plan rather than by individual applications.

“All permanent stables and field shelters will require planning permission and, if the land is not in use for the keeping of horses, an application is unlikely to be acceptable.”

The term Very Special Circumstances implies that a desperate “Need” for this facility must be Obvious and Proven, or that there are very few similar facilities in the area.
It should be noted that there are many similar facilities in the local area.

The “facilities are small scale” indeed accommodating a maximum of 3 horses only. This will have no tangible impact on any suggested unmet need for such facilities, even if such need were proven to exist.

The applicant refers to the Purposes of the Green Belt and notes ‘to check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas’;
The applicant points out that their intention is to construct “buildings in the Green Belt will give rise to built development”

Archaeological Features

The field abutting the proposed Stable Yard contains the Roman Saltern, a scheduled Ancient Monument, 260m south east of Great Russell Head Farm. This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance.

Proposed Access

The current access is on a busy dual carriageway, Canvey Road.

The design plans indicate the intention to “set back” the gated entrance 6 metres from the footpath. Whilst this “pull in” may make the actual entry to the field somewhat safer, other Canvey Road field entrances, with similar “pull in”design, have been the subject of serious “Fly Tipping” problems. This has been notably recorded at the entrances to the Canvey West Marsh RSPB site, directly opposite.

Vandalism and the protection from Harm of Horses

The Stable Block would likely act as a “magnet” for vandals being, unlit, housing unattended animals over night, out of sight of passers-by view thereby “secret”, and of wooden construction, containing feed and bedding, all potential fire hazards.*

*Extracted from the Canvey Green Belt Campaign group’s 4 page Objection document.

Illustration with apologies to Thelwell

Persimmon approach the First Hurdle for Canvey Island’s Dutch Village Green Belt Development! CPBC Censorship!

Persimmon have Housing Development plans for Canvey Island. However they appear happy to play the Long Game.

Plans have been registered with Castle Point Council for Stables for 3 Horses at the Dutch Village. This will include the “Change of Use of Land” as it is Green Belt.

Their Application stresses the stables will be “Built Development”.

We have covered this in a previous blog post HERE.

For those concerned or wishing to make comment we thought it might be helpful to make public our Grounds for Objection as registered with Castle Point Council, these should be visible below for you to see:-


Runnymede Towers

Please be advised WE DON’T HAVE TO MAKE COMMENTS VISIBLE TO OTHER RESIDENTS on  the Castle Point website. This may be due to us not wanting others to know what Residents think or just us choosing to Censor information.

Anyway we don’t care, cos the legislation says we don’t have to! Editor.

“As prescribed in article 15 of the Development Management Procedure Order, local planning authorities are required to undertake a formal period of public consultation, prior to deciding a planning application. There is however, as you correctly stated, no legislative requirements for any comments received as part of that consultation to be available to view online.

The Castle Point website does however show the number of comments that have been received on any application so the level of public interest can be clearly identified. We are not alone in this approach, it is commonly adopted by a number of authorities, our neighbouring authority of Basildon being one such example.

We have been working in this way for some time now and we certainly have no evidence to suggest that this is in anyway deterring people from commenting. Indeed we have an application which is currently open for consultation that has received 135 comments to date, demonstrating I believe that the community remain fully engaged in the process.

Planning guidance states that officer’s reports should include the ‘substance of any objections, contain technical appraisals which clearly justify the recommendation and should have a written recommendation for the decision to be made’.

Comments received in respect of a planning application can only be considered if they are, what is commonly known as, ‘material planning considerations’. Comments which are not material cannot be considered in the determining of a planning application and any such comments will not therefore be referenced in a report by an officer nor should they be considered by members at Committee.

The information you have appended below your email is indeed an ‘extract’ from a much longer report however I should point out that it omits to make reference to the consideration of all relevant objections in more detail throughout the body of the report, which more fully explain how the objections have been considered against planning policies and guidance.

Development Control Committee can, and often do, make a decision which is different from the officer recommendation and this will often reflect a difference in the assessment of how a policy has been complied with, or different weight ascribed to relevant matters.

Thank you again for contacting us.

Regards, Castle Point Borough Council”

Are Castle Point Councillors booked in for Castration? Are Nimby’s going into Extinction alongside Dinosaurs? CPBC Planning, 2018 version!

With Castle Point council indicating no Development Control meeting scheduled for March 2018 and confusion over the April meeting, there could be an indication that all is not well where Planning is concerned at our local authority!


Luckily our local newspaper, the Echo, has not picked up on this as cpbc may well have been made to reveal some difficult reasoning as to, not only, what is behind these meetings being cancelled, but also why Residents involvement in the Planning Process is being censored!  (see the link HERE.)

Clearly there is a move to apply a level of Autocratic control over planning in Castle Point, whether this has come from instruction from the Government department or the back offices of Runnymede Towers, we await answers!

There is either plotting being undertaken to prevent Government Intervention in Castle Point council, and / or the cpbc Development Control committee are seen by the cpbc officers as being the Root of the Problem!

Previously the Regional Spatial Strategies were the root of all problems where Housing Need numbers were concerned, causing Castle Point council to put forward Canvey Island Green Belt as the only sites that should be unconstrained by the GB policy!

Now it appears that the Joint Spatial Plan, supposedly emerging via the Association of South Essex Local Authorities (ASELA), is the New Driver behind the next New Local Plan.

However this appears less Open and Transparent, as little feedback from meetings and works carried out is made public.

Is it a case of if our representatives are cut out of the equation and work is carried out by officers and the Leader and his close colleagues, more planning is likely to be Approved and successful in Castle Point?

Where you might ask, the ECHO, and our local representatives, is the Castle Point council response to the Government threat of Intervention that was due to be delivered by the end of January?

In November 2017 Sajid Javid MP Secretary of State wrote to Castle Point Council to instruct:-

“The February 2017 Housing White Paper set out that we will prioritise intervention where:

* the least progress in plan-making has been made

* policies in plans had not been kept up to date

* there was higher housing pressure; and

* intervention would have the greatest impact in accelerating Local Plan production

My decisions on intervention will also be informed by the wider planning context in each area (specifically, the extent to which authorities are working cooperatively to put strategic plans in place, and the potential impact that not having a plan has on neighbourhood planning activity).” 

Now in March 2018 Sajid Javid follows up with further pressure on local authorities with these instructions, as interpreted by the BBC News:-

“Nimby councils” in England that fail to build enough new homes, or allow them to be built, could be stripped of planning powers, Housing Secretary Sajid Javid has warned.
Councils will be told how many homes a year must be built and inspectors will step in if that does not happen.
Mr Javid told the Sunday Times he would be “breathing down” the necks of local authorities to ensure targets are met.
However, Labour accused the government of “eight years of failure on housing”.
On Monday, the government will announce an overhaul of planning rules in an attempt to increase the rate of house building in England.
‘Market prices’
A new planning policy framework will contain new rules to determine how many homes councils must build – taking into account local house prices, wages and key worker numbers.
Higher targets will be set for areas where house prices outstrip annual earnings.
House price calculator: Where can I afford to rent or buy?
Your biggest financial decision – in charts
Reality Check: How does renting a home in the UK compare?
“For the first time it will explicitly take into account the market prices,” Mr Javid told the Sunday Times.
“If you are in an area where the unaffordability ratio is much higher you will have to build even more. It will make clear to councils that this number is a minimum, not a maximum.”
He said councils would also be held to account on house-building promises they make.
Mr Javid said councils that fail to meet targets will be stripped of the right to decide what is built within their boundaries, with inspectors making decisions instead.

Prime Minister Theresa May told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show the government would “release more public sector land” to facilitate more building of homes.
She added: “We’re saying to councils you’ve got to take local communities into account, you’ve got to ensure you’ve got a proper plan for your local area. If you haven’t got it the government will intervene.”
Nimby – short for “not in my backyard” – is a term that originated in the US but became popular in the UK from the 1980s to describe people who routinely object to any proposed development near their homes that might affect property values.
It is not often applied to towns or councils as a whole but Mr Javid said his new rules were designed to stop “Nimby councils that don’t really want to build the homes their local community needs” from fudging the numbers in their area.
“We have a housing crisis in this country. We need a housing revolution,” he added.
Mr Javid also revealed plans to build up to five new towns between Oxford and Cambridge.
“Along that corridor there’s an opportunity to build at least four or five garden towns and villages with thousands of homes,” he added.

Canvey Dutch Village Green Belt under Fire, yet Again! The Cowboys set to take advantage – More Canvey Island Development by Stealth? Jotmans Farm beware!

In a crude attempt to negate supposedly protected Green Belt land on Canvey Island, a Planning Proposal has been received by Castle Point planners!

Persimmon, withdrew their long standing proposal to develop 300 dwellings on the Canvey Dutch Village, now a new proposal is shown as being received.

This time, no doubt an interim measure, for an equine facility, we assume in the current local climate as a move towards their real desire to develop over, the Dutch Village Green Belt site.

18/0118/FUL | Erection of stable block with adjoining hay storage/tack room and associated landscaping. Formation of access track together with the change of use of land for the keeping of horses. Installation of width restriction barrier to discourage unauthorised motorcycle access and main entrance gate alterations. | Land East Of Canvey Road And South Of Great Russell Head Farm Canvey Island Essex

The timing could not have been better, whilst Castle Point council remain under threat of Intervention from the Government Secretary of State, due to the failure of the Local Plan Duty to Cooperate requirement and the subsequent  withdrawal of the latest version of the cpbc Local Plan!

CPBC’s gamble to play with technicalities by differentiating between Green Belt and previously developed Green Belt will be tested, at Canvey Island’s expense.

The site served up to save mainland Green Belt, the Blinking Owl site, is not considered deliverable within Local Plan terms. So, the more previously developed Green Belt land in the Island part of the borough, the less required to be found elsewhere in councillors eyes.

Additionally it will be interesting to learn how this proposal for equine use can be Rejected, as a very similar application was granted in the Green Belt, by the Castle Point development committee, for Canvey west ward councillor J.King in January 2017!

cpbc officers applied the following logic, so as to overcome the Special Circumstances to allow development in this instance;

Sluice farm, Haven Road. 16/0433/FUL

“The Planning Authority defines a ‘very special circumstance’ as one which is unique to the site or, at the very least, incapable of frequent repetition. Very special circumstances need not be a single matter, but may result from a combination of matters which individually may not be considered very special, but which in combination, when viewed objectively, may be identified as very special.
Whilst the proposal will result in inappropriate development in the Green Belt which will have an impact on the openness of the Green Belt, suggesting that permission for the proposal should be withheld, the NPPF openly encourages the provision of opportunities for outdoor recreation, improved biodiversity and improved landscape. The proposal will provide opportunities for countryside recreation which would be consistent with the Government objective of seeking to provide positive uses within the established Green Belt.
It is considered that this factor, coupled with the limited harm to the strategic function, character and appearance of the Green Belt provide very special circumstances which weigh in favour of the proposed development.”

At the time, we were bewildered by the development committee’s eagerness to apply this logic, but……..

In contrast, where the supply of Housing is concerned, as in the Jotmans case, the Secretary of State concluded;

“The Secretary of State has considered carefully whether these considerations amount to very special circumstances which clearly outweigh the harm to the Green Belt and other harm. The Secretary of State has taken into account the extremely low housing land supply, and the withdrawal of the dNLP. This increases uncertainty about the future delivery of housing. He has also taken into account the Written Ministerial Statement confirming the Government’s policy that ‘subject to the best interests of the child, personal circumstances and unmet need are unlikely to clearly outweigh harm to the Green Belt and any other harm so as to establish very special circumstances’.”

You can see the obvious danger where cpbc are concerned, apparently the provision of Stabling for Horses provide the Very Special Circumstances necessary to permit green Belt Release, whilst the provision of allegedly much needed Housing, in a borough with a chronic under supply of housing, doesn’t!

Or is it simply a case of Canvey Green Belt requiring a different level of Special Circumstances? We will be interested to learn the position our representatives will adopt and their logic in doing so.

We can imagine the wringing of hands and the apologetic faces, whilst they state that their hands are tied and that they can only consider the application before them!

Who knows the Canvey equine Green Belt proposal may be a ploy by Persimmon, so that when they resurrect their Jotmans Farm proposal, as they most certainly will, they will then be able to suggest that with a new equine facility on Canvey, there will be an abundance of equine stabling and facilities in this part of Castle Point. Jotmns Farm campaigners be warned!

It appears  however that for now, the Castle Point cowboys may be getting themselves a new Ranch!

“The Natives are restless, and seem desirous of fighting”, The question is, or are they?


Image: Courier Litho. Co., Buffalo, N.Y.

Fake News and the Paddocks, Canvey Island! The Viability of a 2 Storey Community Centre, acting as a Flood Refuge remains a Secret!

Let Canvey Islanders be clear, any fake news that concerns Cllr smith  regarding the Paddocks’ future, has stemmed from his own vague comments during the last Canvey Island community meeting!

The fact is the Paddocks community centre has been, for many years, left to deteriorate through lack of maintenance funding! That a municipal building should last just 5 decades indicates a scandalous and incompetent decision making administration that has been responsible for the centre!

Let’s be clear, the fundamental driver behind the Paddocks proposed rebuild is releasing space for more Housing!


The Paddocks community centre, Canvey Island

Castle Point council’s intent for the WHOLE Paddocks site is clear, as stated in the cabinet agenda paperwork;

“The conclusion of feasibility work reveals that the Paddocks Community Centre building has reached the end of its design life and is beyond economic repair.”

“The Paddocks site on Canvey Island is an important community asset, and it is therefore entirely appropriate that the condition of the asset and its potential are regularly reviewed.”

“The construction of a new Community Centre will be dependent on “enabling development” on other parts of the site.”

The move to alter the Paddocks site has 3 purposes.

First, and most important to cpbc, is the release of Canvey land for more Housing development to satisfy the Borough’s Housing Need.

Secondly, the intent of the local NHS group to close all GP doctors facilities and centralise into the Paddocks Health Service facility.

Thirdly, the desire to draw up a believable Local Plan for the Borough. This Paddocks scheme will in effect provide Brownfield Land for Housing development. The fact that it will assist in defending the equivalent number of housing units on Green Belt land should by its suggestion, be supported. The fact that the site is in a Flood Zone and a Critical Drainage Area however, indicates a level of cynicism.

The fact that cpbc prioritise development on Canvey indicates their lack of moral fibre. However be in no doubt, cpbc having made a decision to place housing development in a flood zone ahead of mainland sites may well satisfy a Local Plan Examining Inspector.

It is no coincidence that cpbc have seized upon the possibilities at the Paddocks is no coincidence, given the silence over the release of the Blinking Owl site in the north of the Borough. Plans for the Blinking Owl site appear to have stalled, which is most surprising as the recent Essex County Council Highways announcement of intention to upgrade the Fairglen Interchange and the Government’s Consultation on Strategic and, more relevant to Castle Point, Major Road Network.

Screenshot (9)

The lack of backing for the Blinking Owl site should concern mainland residents, especially as Basildon Council have increased the potential of the Dunton proposed development to 4,000 dwellings. If Basildon can achieve development in a new area, why are cpbc so reticent?

The precedent for the type of housing intended for the Paddocks has been set by the height and number of storeys of the Flats next door in Long Road. The number of dwellings will evidently need to be enough to support the building of new community centre in place of the Paddocks.

One thing is clear, a new community centre SHOULD be of two levels, so as to act as a much needed Safe Refuge area from flooding for the many bungalows and for the less able and elderly residents living  nearby! Any proposal for a community centre of a single level should be Rejected as a matter of Planning Principle.

It will be interesting to learn the viability of a suitable new Paddocks scheme and the necessary level of new housing to financially support the proposal!

At the moment the extended NHS services in the Paddocks grounds, the new housing development and the loss of the free town centre car parking spaces and the children’s pool and activity area appears to be receiving more support from cpbc members than the Hadleigh Town Centre Regeneration.

These are not our words, but words of someone far more influential in the process of Local Plan making, words which cpbc ceo and consulting officers appear willing to allow cpbc members to ignore;

I have concerns with the approach in relation to the Green Belt; and the consequences of this on the distribution of growth across the Borough

As we now know, Green Belt remains a Constraint, whilst Flood Risk is disregarded.

Canvey Island remains and will continue to be the most densely Urbanised part of the Borough, whilst the status quo of the balance of Power continues at cpbc.